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Pets of the paper

Written by: Taylor Duff | Staff Writer

At the Western Howl, we love many things from spicy chips, Dutch Bros, to Harry Styles and especially our Pets. 

Gretchen Sims, our Editor-in-Chief, has Leon, a cat, who is the king of Grinch toes and has never worked a hard day in his life. One of Gretchen’s family dogs is a female Lab/Pit mix named Wehya. She’s not hungry, despite what those eyes may suggest.

Ruth Simonsen, our digital media manager, has a Mixed Bombay Cat named Okra who isn’t very bright but is more than capable of choosing violence at three in the morning. 

Libby Thoma, one of our Staff Writers, had Sam, an Anatolian Shepherd who enjoyed protecting, herding and being a big boy — he will be missed forever. Libby also has Ginny, her orange meowing cat whom she considers her therapy pal. 

Jaylin Hardin, our Sports Editor, has two cats: Winnie, a tabby cat, and Samwise, an orange cat. Winnie likes to bite toes, meow for food to be filled even when it’s halfway full and gobble and shred cardboard boxes. Samwise is so chubby that the floorboards under him creak. 

Sierra Porter, another one of our Staff Writers at the Howl, has a tabby named Jake, who would kill anyone to have fried chicken, and Blaze, a border collie with pretty brown eyes–the biggest snuggle bug ever, but forcibly places her toys between your legs so that you have play with her. 

Addie Floyd, our Head Designer, has Kalypso, a lab mix wolf. She’s a ten-year-old princess. She thinks it’s funny to snap at her other dog siblings. Addie also has Mars, an orange tabby cat who is in love with Kalypso. He gives Kalypso back massages. When he’s not giving Kyp back massages, he is sneaking out and taking bus rides to the town over with homeless people. He no longer sneaks out; instead, he has a secure catio mounted to Addie’s window. 

Quinlan Wedge is our Photo Editor and has Squid, Scout and Harper. Squid is a black cat about one and a half, a cunning demon and a perfect angel. Likes to frighten people and sits outside the shower. Adores everyone, adores food, enjoys chaos and adores cuddling in warm and cozy blankets. Scout is a 13ish-year-old Akita dog and is an elderly woman who is full of kisses. Lastly is Harper, a Saint Bernard, the legendary golden child, age six, who was abandoned by a breeder because she was too “fugly” to produce offspring.

Claire Philips is our Entertainment Editor at the Howl and has Finn and Clementine. Finn has a smart aura and an underbite that fascinates everyone. You, the couch, the walls and anything close to him will all be licked by him. He’s got all the answers, even how to make things slobbery. She also has Farley, who is afraid of his own shadow, loves to collect sweaters and can clear a dish of food like it’s no big deal. Then, there is Fiona, a country girl at heart who is only frightened of the car. She will make friends with all animals, regardless of whether it means carrying toads in her mouth. If you don’t glance at Clementine for ten seconds, she’ll yell at you. She’ll get furious with you if you don’t feed her within five minutes and meet the stereotype of the orange cat. 

Lili Minato, our fantastic Freelancer at the Howl, has Polly, her black cat. She’s about twelve and is extremely petty but also a knowledgeable old woman.

Hannah Field, our News Editor, has Lucy and Lily. Lucy is a grouchy, irritable, blind and deaf elderly woman who will also urinate on the carpet and cry out for help. Lily is a Chihuahua-Pinscher mix, who loves attention and has a fear of everything. She avoids the water. Kittens terrify her. She’s just scared. 

Liberty Miller, our Lifestyle Editor, has Cooper, a Purebred Aussie whom she claims is a felon — taken into custody for attempted murder and violence. Liberty claims Copper ran over my mother several times with just his body — a weight of 100 pounds — in all. He sports a blue eye known to us as, “The Crazy Eye.” He attacked me and several others, as evidenced by numerous videos. He’s big, fluffy and lethal. Liberty also has Lexi, who is the complete opposite of Cooper. She is a princess, head of the household and head of the global administration. She’s sassy and spotted, exquisite and flawless. 

Sophie is one of the Designers at the Western Howl and has a five-year-old Chico, also known as Cheeks, Chubbo, Chico Pants or Chico Pantalones, who is a West Highland terrier. Because he often curls up in the nook of our armchairs, we refer to him as our “armchair dog.” He is upset with the groomers, which is why he has a cut on his tongue. He notably dislikes Snoop Dogg and watches television. A true fatty, she also has an eleven-year-old Australian poodle Alex, also known as AlexBoBalex, who adores cheese. She loves strangers and my mom but hates the rest of the family. 

Lastly, there is me, Taylor Duff, a Staff Writer here at the Western Howl, and I have Bella and Cuba. Bella is my lazy half-English half-American bulldog who gives me a lot of attitude and is a real bed hog. Cuba is a half-Siberian Husky and half-Alaskan Malamute, is huge and thinks he’s a lap dog. He also loves to sing his people’s songs.   

Contact the author at: tduff23@mail.wou.edu

What do you choose for yourself

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

The world is rife with standards and expectations set upon people to act and look a certain way. With social media, these end up following us everywhere: our homes, work and into academic spheres — even the classroom is not safe from the barrage of content that tells us we have to be a certain way.

Men and women are expected to align themselves with society’s views on what defines their gender. Women have to be conventionally attractive and must always perform — for men and women alike. Men have to be masculine and never show their emotions, even if their world is falling apart.

The divide goes as far as men and women having different vocabularies to describe them. A man is strategic, a woman is calculated. A man can react, but a woman can only overreact. If a man has a high body count, he’s a player. If a woman has a high body count, she’s a s–t. If a man drinks a lot, he’s an alcoholic. If a woman drinks a lot, she’s a party girl. 

But these double standards and expectations are just as drastic when it comes to hair color or even age. If you’re a blonde, you’re dumb. If you’re ginger, you must be feisty. Young people must respect our elders, but they don’t have to respect us because they’re so much older and “wiser.”

Existing is impossible. In your twenties, it’s exhausting to try and be what everyone else wants you to be, while also trying to figure yourself out. You can’t be too loud or take up too much space, because “young people these days just don’t know how to act anymore.”

Who else is tired? Because I am. Even our generation has too many expectations for ourselves, and we are often seen as the generation that is breaking the mold.

Are you low visual or high visual weight? Are you fox or bunny pretty? Are you a clean girl or a dirty girl? Try this protein powder, it’s to die for. If you like this product you must be weird, because only weird people like it.

Even clothing trends and accessories cause a stir nowadays. If anyone wears a band shirt, they have to name three songs or all the members of said band. 

For example, I once wore a Led Zeppelin shirt to class, and someone asked me to name five songs, even though they didn’t even know who Led Zeppelin was. The dude thought they were a 2000s band. But why did he expect me to know? Because if I didn’t, that made me a fake fan, someone who was just wearing the shirt for the trend.

Even industries have different standards for the people within. Female nurses are so awesome because they’re taking care of people, but male nurses? They must not be smart enough to be a doctor. A woman in STEM? You must be joking, women aren’t smart enough.

The internet is just full of other people’s opinions and standards for how people should be, and we follow these trends. Why?

Psychologist, Robert Cialidini, says that people use heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to navigate their lives. According to him, people often use one heuristic when making decisions: “popular is good.” Humans are social — in our past we used groups to survive. 

“For an individual joining a group, copying the behavior of the majority would then be a sensible, adaptive behavior. A conformist tendency would facilitate acceptance into the group and would probably lead to survival if it involved the decision, for instance, to choose between a nutritious or poisonous food, based on copying the behavior of the majority,” Julia Coultas said, a researcher at the University of Essex. 

We, as humans, have the basic survival drive to follow and belong to a group. We want to feel like we belong to that group, even at the harm of someone who is an “outsider.”

One example of this — and not to be that person who always talks about Taylor Swift — is seen in the clash between fans of Swift — Swifties — and fans of the NFL or Kanye West. The majority of Swifties keep to themselves and often do not say anything bad about other fanbases or celebrities, with the exception of the occasional mention of “what the f**k is Kanye doing?” Fans of West and the NFL? They consistently drag Swifties, even if they simply like Swift’s music.

This is consistent throughout fanbases and other groups of society. One person from one group does not like someone or something, or they behave a certain way and the majority of the group they are in follows. This is seen in athletics, book clubs and even friend groups. If someone doesn’t meet the standards or expectations of a certain group, then there is something wrong with them.

So what then? What do we do? Do we try to change society? Well, yes and no.

Society and humans are not intrinsically bad. We adapt to cooperate in society and the groups we choose. As we change, so does society. It becomes more accepting, more cooperative with one another and with diversity. But still, how do we center ourselves in the world of beauty standards and consumerism?

The best advice I can offer to break from what society expects of us is music. Music feeds our souls, it feeds our minds. Sounds are steadily connected to our memories and can trigger emotions within us when we have those neural connections. The sound of a drill at the dentist might give you anxiety. A river rushing by might bring you peace. This is what you are taking control of from society: what sounds and music trigger what emotions and feelings within you. Society and its dumb expectations cannot take that away from you.

The world around you might be loud, but take a moment. Listen. What’s there for you under the screams of expectations and standards? A birdsong, perhaps. On campus, I often hear the squirrels barking at each other, a “muk-muk” sound if you will. 

You pay attention to what you hear, not what you are told to hear.

Contact the author at howlsports@wou.edu

The death of creative writing

Written by: Gretchen Sims | Editor in Chief

Writing for fun is something that many of us have dabbled in sometime in our lives; though, for most, this hobby may have died off early on. However, as someone who entered college with a love of the written form of the English language, I have had the unique experience of watching the suffocation of creativity — while even my love and passion were slowly drained. 

While school itself can be draining, a unique phenomenon to higher education is the smothering of the creative spark. Many students leave college burnt out and reject the creative practices they once engaged fervently in.

I have not seen more stifling of creativity than in creative writing classes. One would think that this is where a student’s passion for writing would be encouraged or nurtured, but this could not be further from the truth.

I hate to say this, but it is an honest observation: professors, while they are the experts, think too highly of themselves and their work. They neglect the fact that each student will have their own style and writing process. Creative writing should be just that, but many professors force students to conform to their specific style of writing — glazing over the fact that, perhaps, their style is not the only one. 

Each student brings their own context and unique experiences into a writing class. This affects the way they tackle the project and, more importantly, shapes their writing. Professors also have their context and experiences, however, going to grad school does not automatically make their context more important. 

I have not been in a creative writing class where the professor encourages students, through their actions, to be creative with their writing — all assignments, if you want to do well, have to be written in the style and method that the professor, while often unstated, desires.

This is enough to kill even the most passionate student’s love of writing. When professors cram students into boxes, they become mindless robots, typing away on lifeless pages: this is a phenomenon I have seen far too often. 

This is not something unique to the Western writing department. Anywhere art is taught, creativity tends to be stippled out of students. By placing a grade — level of worth — onto a creative piece, the student gets a measure of “how good” they are. This can lead students, who do not conform to the professor’s idealistic standard of said art form, to become disheartened and lose passion for that which they once loved. 

Contact the author at howleditorinchief@wou.edu

Tiktoks don’t belong in film

Written by: Lili Minato | Freelancer

Content warning: this article contains spoilers 

The original song “Sexy” starts to play as Karen Shetty — played by Avantika — appears on the screen to record a TikTok about Halloween. As she ends her video, multiple other tiktokers appear on screen singing the same song. A collage of vertical videos fills the large movie theater screen, complete with off-brand heart, share and comment emoticons inspired by the social media app. 

The film’s desired effect of relatability does not occur as the audience is vocally taken aback. The implementation of social media apps in films created by an older generation for a younger audience often does not have the desired effect on audiences. 

This trend has been prominently used in coming-of-age Netflix movies for an indulgent audience, with the hopes that it will convince children and teens alike to relate to their poorly written main characters. Now, this idea has infected the big screen. 

Ironically, the recent “Mean Girls” musical — which has been even more popularized through TikTok — has tried and failed to cater to the youth of today. While having a good chance of being a decent film, the consistent usage of social media caused the downfall of the musical. 

Hailee Carmody — a sophomore at Western — shares her opinion on the matter, “I think it (TikToks) takes you out of the movie quite a bit, especially when the phone frames the scene,” Carmody said.

Later in the film, TikToks are used once again to show the spread of Regina George’s downfall. In the clips of students sharing their grievances against George, tiktokers and celebrities — like Megan Thee Stallion — appear on screen as well. 

This causes shock within the audience — whether it be negative or positive. Carmody related to the former option, “Including tiktokers is more promotion (for the film) and I think they added nothing to the story, they were just a face,” stated Carmody.

The TikTokers that were included are popular on TikTok but outside of social media, they don’t have much of an impact on viewers. It’s simply another half-hearted attempt to relate to the target audience of teenagers.

Social media and film are the oil and vinegar of media, they never mix well. The off-brand icons and the internet slang age movies and take audiences out of the watching experience. 

Instead of its intended use of relatability, TikTok turns good films into tacky, laughable cash grabs with little substance.

Contact the author at lminato22@mail.wou.edu

Valentine’s day is for your friends

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

You’re in elementary school again — nearing the final stretch of winter — it’s cold and gray outside, typical of February weather. Inside the school, however, it’s warm and cozy, with heart streamers dangling from the walls and artwork on the whiteboards. The students’ cubbies are packed with cardstock and goodie bags, a reflection of the Valentine’s Day cheer.

The holiday isn’t as easily understood by children, who have no experience with romance and its faults. They have yet to learn the cost of an expensive dinner or the difficulties of planning a perfect excursion — they haven’t had to worry about finding that flawless gift for your soulmate or even how to find a soulmate in the first place. To the children, the holiday is about candy, the color pink and friendship.

For these kids, Valentine’s Day will likely flip, the way it has for many adults, and turn into a pro-corporation, anti-single-person, couple-schmoozing money pit. Couples are expected to blow hundreds on extravagant presents, maybe even some diamond rings, and spending Valentine’s Day alone usually culminates in classic movie reruns and ice cream on the couch — Titanic, anyone?

Nobody can really be blamed for sighing at the sight of dozens of flower vendors standing on street corners during February, trying to finesse desperate men into overpriced bouquets. More than half of American adults think that Valentine’s Day isn’t a “real special occasion” and it ranks low — if not lowest — on the list of top ten favorite holidays nationwide.

Truly, how many people outright say that Valentine’s Day is their favorite holiday?

I do. Valentine’s Day, for as long as I can remember, began years ago as an event built off of love, kindness and acceptance. I was excited to appreciate my friends and classmates — and it only grew with me. I love gathering my friends and baking with them or for them, offering little gifts to showcase my respect for them. If they’re single, I make a note to do it in a more significant fashion. I try to tip waiters who work on Valentine’s Day more; I try to say “I love you” to people who don’t hear it as often as they should. 

We’ve long since lost sight of what we practiced in elementary school, blinded by money and out-doing other couples. At its core, Valentine’s Day should just be about love and peace — not competition.

Reminder: men like flowers too — they’re just waiting to be asked.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu

Love me, love me not

Written by:  Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

Regardless if one has been with their significant other for six months or six years — or even if you have a little crush on someone — you can test your compatibility with some simple questions. Believe it’s meant to be? Test it: 

Q1: What is your significant other’s spirit animal?

Q2: If it was possible to see any artist for free, who would they see?


Q3: Chocolate or vanilla? 

Q4: What snack would they sneak into the movie theaters? 

Q5: What is the best memory between you two?

Contact the author at howlstaffwriter@wou.edu

Stop pit bull hate and discrimination

Written by: Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

Dogs have been man’s best friend for hundreds of years, but when it comes to pit bulls and bullies, they’ve come to accumulate some of the worst reputations among all dog breeds. 

Pit bulls and bull-mixed breeds make up over 50% of the canines in pounds. The misunderstood breed is most often overlooked and left sitting in the cages watching their fellow dogs get chosen over them repeatedly. Out of the 1.2 million dogs that are euthanized every year, 40% of them are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. 

Pit bulls are continuously discriminated against, not just in the United States, but all across the world. The United Kingdom enacted  the “Dangerous Dog Act” that bans the breeding, selling or giving away of medium to extra large size dog breeds, including the pit bull and bully. Owners had until Feb. 1, 2023 to register them or be charged with a criminal offense. These dogs are also not allowed in public without a muzzle and lead. Many in the U.S. fear the government will also follow suit and ban these breeds as well. 

The dangerous dog ban garnered an outcry from dog and pit bull lovers all across the world — many citing the defense of animal rights and owner responsibility. 

Pit bulls have been trained to be fighting dogs — emphasis on trained, not born to be. Pit bulls are low maintenance, easy to train, loyal, have large personalities and are known as “nanny dogs” as they have strong instincts to comfort and protect their loved ones. 

84% of these breeds that were reported in dog attacks were also reported being neglected or abused. The behavior of an animal is always a reflection of the owner. 

Common Law rules make owners liable for their animals when they neglect them or know their dog is dangerous but have not attempted to change their behavior. This has not yet encouraged many dog owners to properly train their dogs and 4.5 million people in the U.S. are attacked by dogs every year. Many of these owners face little to no punishment and are often cited with a ticket to pay. In order to really encourage change, there needs to be more severe punishments for neglectful owners where they should face jail time or not be allowed to own any animals again. 

Pit bulls are extremely loyal and intelligent dogs, so consistent, gentle training will ensure a non-aggressive best friend. It’s also essential to get them interacting with animals and humans alike as soon as possible; dogs have a great sense of fear so if one is afraid of allowing them around others, then they will be afraid just the same. Most importantly, before adopting a dog, think about if one has the time and patience to take care of said dog. If one can’t raise a young child, then raising a dog should be out of the question.. 

Pit bulls are living, breathing, loving creatures that deserve a happy and healthy life just like the rest of us. Their loyalty to the human race despite the decades of mistreatment shows these dogs are truly angels. 

Let’s put an end to pit bull discrimination and bring an era of fighting for the rights of our most loyal best friends.

Contact the author at howlstaffwriter@wou.edu